Startup Founders: The "Get Real Or Get Lost" Contest

May 5, 2006

I’ve received some great feedback (good and bad) to my prior two articles in the series “Disagreeing With 37signals”.  However, I think that some members of the readership (pretty large and growing every day) may have missed the larger message here.


I am a big fan of the “Getting Real” book.  I think there are a lot of good lessons to be learned and some simple (but effective) insights.  I’ll likely make it required reading for the startups I invest in or become involved with.  So, in a partial effort to help clear any confusion there might be out there, I thought I’d do something semi-creative.


Since my goal for is to help create better software entrepreneurs, this should have the highest possible return on money of anything I’ve come up with so far.


The “Get Real Or Get Lost” Contest


Here’s what you do to participate:


  1. Buy a copy of “Getting Real” directly from the 37signals website (as you might expect, it’s easy to do).  Current price is $19.  If you’ve already bought the book, that’s fine too.


  1. Read it.  Won’t take that long.  Lots of white space and flows pretty well.


  1. Identify one idea from the book and expand on it.  I’m looking for, as Paul Graham would say, “the diffs” (don’t tell us something all of us already know, but expand and come up with something creative).  It can be based on something you agree with in the book or something you disagree with.  Make it non-obvious and passionate.


  1. Send me an email to getreal (at) – with your key insight or thoughts.  It can be a sentence, or it can be a paragraph, or it can be five pages.  Also, send me some evidence that you actually bought the book (a simple statement of “I bought the book”) is good enough.  I trust you.


For the first/best entries (up to a maximum of 10), I’ll reimburse you $25 via PayPal to pay for the book.  I’ll try to summarize your key message in a future blog entry and give you a link to your blog from  It couldn’t be more easy.  (Please, no flames on why PalPal sucks and isn’t offered in some countries – I don’t have the energy to find other alternatives right now).


Since all things need deadlines, the deadline for this will be 11:59 p.m. (a minute before midnight), Boston time on Saturday, May 13th.  As brilliant entries start to come in, I’ll begin responding and making the payments. 


And PLEASE, don’t bombard me with details on contest rules and questions to clarify.  The investment is not that big and trust me to use my best judgment – as I’m trust you to use yours.  Don’t overcomplicate this. 


Look forward to hearing from you.


Disclaimer:  Void where prohibited.  Your mileage may vary.  Family, friends and acquaintances of the organizers are welcome to participate.  Contest is being run by a benevolent dictator who is not in any shape or form working for or advising 37signals or benefiting financially through sales of the book.



Written by Dharmesh Shah

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